Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA)

What Is The Electronic Communications Privacy Act?

This act, which is otherwise known as the ECPA, was enacted in the year 1986, following the widespread concern of electronic eavesdropping and wiretapping by law enforcement.

Almost two decades later, these issues are still a growing concern among citizens, especially with the increasing modernization of electronic devices and platforms including email, social media, smartphones, e-readers and more. Any communication transmitted electronically, such as through wire, radio, or other means is covered under this act.

Key Notes about ECPA:

  • Violators of ECPA face up to 5 Years imprisonment and fines of up to $250,000.
  • Information obtained illegally, or without a warrant will be inadmissible in the courtroom.
  • In order to disclose records from email, whether in storage or transit, a subpoena or warrant is usually needed.
  • Victims can be compensated for privacy breaches in civil suits, in addition to attorney and court fees.
  • The Federal Government isn’t disbarred from tapping into personal communications.
  • ISPs are able to disclose criminal activities to law enforcement if there are suspicions.

Due to the changing landscape of electronic communications, several reforms are in process. The government has restricted power by law enforcement to intercept electronic communications, or engage in trap and trace technology to some extent.

There are however many loopholes and ambiguities in the act, and if you’re on trial for invading someone’s privacy, or have had your own privacy violated, the law offices of John R. Grasso can help.


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